Link Round-Up: Space Hopper Edition

Some stuff I’ve been meaning to comment on this week, and some new stuff…

1) Via reader Melissa and numerous blogs that got there first: An article on plus-size fashion from the L.A. Times. It’s 99% really good, although A) I could have done without yet another unfounded assertion that “Americans are getting larger,” and B) the thrust of the article is that “the average woman” should be able to buy fashionable clothes — which is totally true, but women sized out of Lane Bryant, let alone designer lines like Rachel Pally and Tadashi, should be able to, too. Ahem. Otherwise, it’s a variation on the usual, “Knock knock, designers, anybody home? Untapped market here!” article, but a lot more thorough than usual. 

Fabulous quote from the article, “getting larger” comment notwithstanding:

It often seems that it’s easier to find and buy stylish clothes for Chihuahuas than for roughly half the country’s female population.

Americans are getting larger, and 62% of females are already categorized as overweight. But the relationship between the fashion industry and fuller-figure women is at a standoff, marked by suspicion, prejudice and low expectations on both sides. The fear of fat is so ingrained in designers and retailers that even among those who’ve successfully tapped the market, talking plus-size often feels taboo. The fraught relationship between fashion and plus-size is far from new, but seems particularly confounding in a time when retailers are pulling out all the stops to bring in business. Carrying a range of sizes that includes the average female would seem like a good place to start. 

2) The Daily Fail sent a thin woman in a fat suit to Fashion Week. Like all thin women who write such articles, she learned a very special lesson about judging people by their appearances, and leads up to that revelation with a lengthy series of tired fat jokes. Referring to life in her unfathomably enormous UK size 22 (US size 18/20, I think) fat suit, Kate Faithfull shares such trenchant observations as, “My bottom is big but pert, and, beneath my clothes, looks like two puppies fighting under a blanket.” And “It’s a good job my breasts are made of foam and don’t require any support — it would have to be a bra to fit two space hoppers.” And “people leap to get away from me as if they might be sucked into the swell of an ocean liner.” And “Does my bum look big in this? Oh hell, yes. It’s the stuff of nightmares. ”

Then how does she wrap it all up? LESSON LEARNED: Making fun of fat people is mean, you guys! If I still had feelings in a suit so mindbogglingly gigantic it very nearly sized me out of Dorothy Perkins, it follows that actual fat people might have feelings, too! I’m not saying we shouldn’t refer to them as ocean liners, or to their breasts as space hoppers, or trot out the ancient “two ___ fighting under a blanket” canard, mind. And I’m certainly not saying that having a size 22 ass is NOT the stuff of nightmares. I’m just saying… uh, something.

Head. Desk.

Also, as both BFD and Jezebel noted, half the fucking problem with this game, every time it’s played, is that the author assumes people are giving her funny looks for being fat, as opposed to giving her funny looks for walking around in a fucking fat suit.

I’ll mostly leave aside whether her choice of outfits did her any favors. I know lots of fat women who would wear that outfit, and they’d rock it. I would wear most of the components of that outfit, though probably not together. But none of us, in that outfit or any part of it, would have arms and legs with no more definition than soft sculpture dolls, or a head that clearly belongs to a much smaller woman, or breasts that look like, as Shinobi put it in BFD comments, “she stuffed two balloons in her shirt and didn’t even bother with a bra.” Which is pretty much exactly what she did, by her own admission, except it was foam instead of balloons. Hi, even if your foam boobies don’t require support, it’s going to be obvious that they’re foam boobies if they are A) mostly perpendicular to your chest and B) bouncing noticeably, without any weight to them. If you can’t figure out where to get a space hopper-sized bra, ASK A FUCKING FAT WOMAN, because you need one if you want any prayer of pulling off the illusion that you are not a thin journalist swaddled in polyfill.

If Kate Faithfull walked past me in that get-up, there’s every chance that I would give her the what-the-fuckiest of what-the-fuck faces, because SHE HAS A TINY HEAD AND WEIRDLY WEIGHTLESS BOOBS AND TUBELIKE ARMS TOPPED OFF WITH A REALLY, REALLY BRIGHT OUTFIT, not because she’s “fat.” And then she would probably go and write an article about how even fat people are so judgmental of other “fat people,” it’s all just so sad, why can’t we all get along? INSERT “OCEAN LINER” JOKE HERE, HUR HUR!

(Also, new Shapely Prose decree: Breasts shall henceforth be referred to as “space hoppers” around here. I don’t even know what a fucking space hopper is — is it like a bouncy castle? — but nevertheless, I am so calling my boobs that from now on.)

3) Vesta44 has a righteous rant about the latest “progressive” journalist to draw a terribly clever parallel between fatness and greed. Citigroup just can’t quit the Doritos, y’all. I am not making this up.

4) In non-fat body policing, via Michelle Obama Watch, we learn that The HuffPo says folks are up in arms (haw!) about the First Lady’s wanton sleevelessness. Social Secretary Desiree Rogers paraphrases Obama’s response as: “If I want to wear no sleeves to hear my husband speak, that’s what I’m going to do.” I really hope that means her verbatim response was, “OK, seriously, are they fucking kidding me with this? SUCK IT. ” 

What other links have you got, Shapelings?


The good news: Last night’s reading went incredibly well. Jaclyn Friedman and Toni Amato were fucking awesome (Jessica Valenti had strep and couldn’t make it, unfortunately), I met loads of Boston fatties and a few Shapelings — including, finally, Miss Conduct! — and got way more positive feedback than I deserved. And we sold out of books! Yippee!

Thanks so much to Jaclyn and the Center for New Words for setting it up and inviting me. I had an awesome time — except for one thing. 

So, I brought this pair of heels along with me to wear for the reading. Very sensible heels, mind you — thick and sturdy, with a pronounced rubber sole. I’ve worn them many times and never had a problem, except for the occasional heel blister.

Unfortunately, everyone I talked to in the greater Boston area was flipping out about the weather, to the extent that I somehow forgot I live in Chicago and manage snowier, icier, slushier streets than that on a regular basis (albeit not uneven cobblestone ones). This, plus the fact that I’ve been looking for an excuse to buy some slightly dressy brown boots anyway, meant I could not possibly wear the THICK, STURDY, TESTED heels I’d brought with me. I had to go shopping!

As soon as I saw these, I was done shopping. They were exactly what I wanted — casual but stylish, heel not too high, comfy, great color. As a bonus, since they’re slouchy on top, they don’t rub anywhere — no blisters!

You know what else the slouchy top means, though? No ankle support. This will become important later.

Here, I need to rewind and tell you the story of the Mary Janes That Made Me Fall. The story is: I had these mary janes that made me fall all the time. Otherwise, they were perfect — incredibly comfortable, cute with jeans and skirts, no blisters, etc. — but something about the design of those shoes and the shape of my feet meant that about one out of every 3 times I wore them, one of my ankles would collapse, and I’d take a header. I never did more damage than an ankle twist that hurt for an hour or so, though, and I loved everything else about those shoes, so it didn’t really faze me. (Here, I should rewind and mention that between 1987 and 1989, I sprained my ankles badly enough to need crutches no less than 5 times. So I do have a history of weak ankles/not being so slick at walking — but because I hadn’t had a serious ankle incident in so long, I figured all the scar tissue had toughened them up or something.) 

So, one day Al puts it together that every time I fall down (he’s there about half the time it happens), I’m wearing those same mary janes. And he’s having none of it. Over the next few months, we have many conversations like this: 

Al: When are you going to get rid of those fucking shoes?

Me: I’m not. I love these shoes.


Me: But I never really hurt myself! And they’re cute and comfy!


Me: Small price to pay. 

Then comes the day when I’m wearing the mary janes as we’re crossing the street, and I fall down. Hard. Purse and glasses go flying, so Al has to scramble to collect them and me before the light changes and I get run over by a car. I’m still not actually hurt, but I really no longer have a leg to stand on, so to speak. 


Me: All right. You win.

Shortly thereafter, The Mary Janes That Made Me Fall went to Goodwill. 

And here’s the thing I didn’t take into consideration when I bought the cute new boots yesterday: The heels are shaped exactly like the ones on The Mary Janes That Made Me Fall.


So. I get to the venue, settle in, meet some people, all is well. Then I go out into the hallway, hit the edge of a rug, and fall down. Hard and loud. A bunch of people scramble to see if I’m OK — which I am, at this point. It wasn’t fun, but I’m not hurt, no biggie. Except that I now know from the way it happened that these are going to be forever known as The Boots That Make Me Fall. My left ankle just totally collapsed out of nowhere, and it felt exactly like it did when I went down in the Mary Janes That Made Me Fall.

But oh, well, nothing I can do about it — and hey, at least I’ve already had my fall for the night, right? 

So. I read. I make it on and off the stage without falling. It’s all good. Then I head out for a smoke. 

Same rug. Same ankle. Katy go boom. Landed on the same knee, too. Which sucked, and hurt a little more than the last time — but it’s still no big, nothing that’s going to hurt for longer than 5 minutes. 

Then I come back in from smoking. SAME RUG. SAME ANKLE. SAME KNEE. Now, my ankle is officially twisted — like, it’s-gonna-hurt-tomorrow twisted — and my knee officially hurts. But still, I’m mobile — if a little slow — and there’s an after party to get to.

Did I mention that up to this point, I’ve been drinking nothing but water? Yeah. (I have a feeling that by the third fall, and the third time I screeched, “It’s these goddamned boots! They’re just… something about the shape… weak ankles… I used to have these mary janes my husband made me throw out… goddammit!” people weren’t really buying that. But it was true!)  

Anyway, I get to the after party, and all goes well for a couple hours. I have two cocktails and do a lot of talking with Miss Conduct, Marina, Colleen, Cornflake, Monkey, and various delightful others. It’s a blast. Then Miss Conduct and I get up to leave.

You’ll never guess what happened.

This time with the power of two martinis behind it (on an empty stomach, no less). And yep, same ankle, same knee.

And this time? I can’t even get up right away. This time, my left ankle and right knee are both like, “FUCK YOU, LADY. EVERY TIME WE LET YOU GET UP, YOU JUST DO THIS TO US AGAIN.” So I’m sitting on the floor of a bar, trying not to cry, with a bunch of people around me wondering if they need to call an ambulance, which is always an awesome place to be.

Eventually, I get myself up (with a little help), and I immediately realize I can’t really walk, to speak of. But my hotel is only a few blocks away, so it seems ridiculous to call a cab. Miss Conduct kindly offers to walk me home, and after the first block or so, I can make it without wanting to scream in pain, but I’m still wincing a lot. It’s official: My goddamned ankle is sprained. Didn’t happen the first time, or the second, or THE THIRD, but the fourth was the charm. Furthermore, my other knee is bruised and swollen all to hell, what with having +/- 200 lbs. come down on it 4 TIMES IN ONE NIGHT — the knee actually hurts slightly more overall, but it’s easier to put weight on that leg, so it’s kind of a draw. 

Get back to hotel. Call Al. (“YOU’RE GOING TO THROW OUT THOSE BOOTS IMMEDIATELY, RIGHT?”) Take 3 Advil. Go to bed.

The more-or-less happy ending is that today’s air travel went as smoothly as possible (verrrry much unlike Wednesday’s), and I’m home now. Fortunately, I had a pair of much more sensible boots with me — flat snow boots with excellent ankle support — which got me through the airports slowly but surely. But both legs still hurt like a bitch, walking still sucks, climbing the stairs to my apartment really sucks, and I suspect those things will remain true for at least a few more days. 

There is something sort of poetic, I guess, about the combination of doing my most well-attended and well-received reading ever, meeting loads of people who gushed about how fabulous I was — and literally falling on my face. Four times. Instead of a swelled head, I got a swelled knee and ankle. That seems about right.

So, yeah. That’s how Boston went. Ow ow ow ow ow. But fun! Thanks a bazillion to the Shapelings who came out.

Your Daily Giggle, Plus a Lesson in How Not to Appeal to Your Core Customer

Shapeling H. forwarded me an e-mail from JMS this morning, with the following graphic:


Seriously, y’all, the fat girl store is having a TENT SALE. Once again, we find a marketing department for a plus-size store sorely in need of a common sense consultant. I could not make this shit up if I tried. 

(Having said that, they do have some good deals on bras.)

Quick Self-Promotion/Good Article

My sister-in-law just sent me this article that she first saw in the print version of The Toronto Star. She sent it because it mentions the blog, the book, and my Dear Oprah post (woo!), but I’m actually posting it because, holy cow, it’s really good.

Well, mostly. I think the “vanity sizing” detour is crap, since the underlying belief there is once again that fat people don’t know they’re fat. The numbers on the tags stay the same, so they’ll never realize their asses are getting bigger! Which totally makes sense, if you think about it. I mean, I know that once petite clothes became more widely available, and I could just put on a new pair of pants without having to hem them, I started looking in the mirror and thinking I must be about 5’8″. 

That aside, check this out:

A U.S. survey tracking substantial weight loss found that individuals had to do the equivalent of 40 kilometres of walking every week just to maintain any weight loss.

“That’s a pretty big commitment,” says [University of Guelph obesity researcher Paula] Brauer. “We really underestimated how much it takes to lose substantial weight and keep it off.

“The big thing, really, is not the food,” she says.

“It’s the degree of physical activity that people have to do to keep the weight off. Most obese people are not overeating,” Brauer stresses.

And then the article ends with quotes from the Dear Oprah post — instead of with the usual quote from an obesity researcher saying, “Well, that’s all well and good, but fat people still need to lose weight for their health.” Awesome. Thank you, Diana Zlomislic!

ETA: Do I really still need to tell you people not to read comments on newspaper articles about fat? Sanity Watchers warnings always apply!

Black Tights with a Dressy Dress: Yea or Nay?

So, in keeping with what I preach, I no longer read fashion magazines and thus have no real idea what’s in style at any given moment. But I read enough Go Fug Yourself and Jezebel to know that people who do have some idea are wearing black tights with everything up to and including some pretty fancy dresses.

Which leaves me with a dilemma. See, in my heart, I still think tights with formal or even semi-formal wear are kinda tacky. (Keep in mind, about 75% of my ideas about appropriate dress are dictated by my late mother, whose ideas about appropriate dress stopped evolving in 1959.) And yet, during a midwestern winter, this would be a damned practical trend for me to adopt.

I have to go to Al’s office holiday party on Friday, which is a roughly semi-formal affair. (Last year, I saw everything from business casual to a floor-length velvet gown.) So my plan is to winterize what I wore to Fillyjonk’s wedding, which is this dress in the red jasmine print, and a pair of high-heeled mary janes. I was fantasizing about knee-high boots with it in the winter, but the only ones I have are too casual, and I have so far been too cheap to bother getting dressier ones. So I need something on my legs. 

Ordinarily, I’d do nude or black pantyhose with this ensemble (which might also include a cropped black cardigan, depending on how the heat is inside), but I find myself debating wearing black tights now, since they’re warmer and more comfortable, and I can claim they look fashionable instead of tacky. Also, I wouldn’t have to shave my legs. Bonus.

So, what do we think, crew? Are we in favor of the formal black tights trend? Specifically, how does this look? (I mean, apart from it being taken in bad light with a shitty webcam on a self-timer that required me to run backwards as fast as possible to get my whole body in?) 

Tacky? Not fancy enough? Or just right?

Oh, and while we’re at it, please feel free to share what you’re wearing to holiday parties this year, if you’re going to any.

Could a fatty spend $150K on clothes if she wanted to?

So, yesterday, as the whole world was boggling over how Sarah Palin managed to spend $150,000 on clothes and accessories, I read this Slate piece, in which Nina Shen Rastogi goes on a pretend shopping spree at Saks and tries to do it herself. (In fact, she managed to, though $63,000 of that was jewelry.) And one of my first thoughts was, “I couldn’t do that if I wanted to, because they wouldn’t have enough stuff in my size.” Granted, Shen Rastogi was shopping “as” Sarah Palin, who obviously has no trouble finding things that fit at department stores. But it got me thinking.

So of course, being a fan of the online window-shopping, I had to determine just how much I could spend on high-end designer fat clothes if I were really trying. I didn’t limit myself, as Shen Rastogi did, to stuff that would actually be Palin-appropriate. (If I had, we’d have a much shorter list and lower number here). I just painstakingly went through everything available (online) in my size at the stores where Palin ran up the infamous bills — Saks, Neiman Marcus, Bloomingdale’s, and Barney’s — and picked out every single thing I would buy if neither money nor closet space were an object. I don’t know where the fuck I’m going to wear a dozen different evening dresses, but they’re pretty, and since I have unlimited funds in this fantasy, I probably also have loads of charity events and opera openings and whatnot to attend. 

I restricted myself to stuff I, personally, would wear — at least in theory. (I know some of the Anna Scholz stuff would look like ass on me because it’s too long-geared, for instance, but the shape is otherwise right for me. Unfortunately, a wide selection of plus petites is just as much a fantasy as having the money to afford all this.) Also, I could have run up a much bigger tab by really splurging on shoes and handbags, but the whole point is that I’m trying to see what I could get in terms of plus-size clothing. So I limited myself to 3 pairs of shoes and 3 bags at each store. I didn’t look at jewelry at all, so we can just pretend I spent $63,000 on that, too. 

Here’s the list:


Alice & Trixie Gwen kimono top, $350

Ellen Tracy silk charmeuse tank, $258

Lafayette 148 Johanna silk blouse, $219 (on sale)

Anne Klein silk blouse, $128 (on sale)

Lafayette 148 merino tank, $198

Ellen Tracy cashmere sweater, $338

Lafayette 148 merino turtleneck, $248

Ellen Tracy raffia mosaic jacket, $688

Tadashi chiffon party dress, $375

Tadashi shutter-pleated silk gown, $495

Alice and Trixie Cassandra dress, $415

Tadashi beaded silk gown, $495

James petite bootcut jeans, $207

Chetta B. silk crepe pants, $365

Magaschoni pinstripe pants, $390

Lafayette 148 herringbone skirt, $398

Magaschoni silk taffeta skirt, $465

Magaschoni merino pleat skirt, $325

Lafayette 148 Brinn silk skirt, $238.90 (on sale)

Jimmy Choo peep-toe slingbacks, $740

Ann Demeulemeester ankle boots, $995

Jonathan Kelsey ankle boots, $940

Valentino bow clutch, $895 (I have one kinda like this that I got for $6.99 during a Torrid half-off clearance sale; I’m sure they’re practically identical)

Chloe large Joan bucket bag, $1,670

Prada Vitello Mordore’a shoulder bag, $2,795

Total: $13, 720.90



Anna Scholz cashmere wrap cardigan, $800

Johnny Was embroidered tunic, $210

XCVI Hepburn jacket, $130

Melissa Masse Parker print dress, $225, and long leggings, $150 ($150 for FUCKING LEGGINGS?!? Wait, sorry, my inner Sarah Palin would not say that.)

Johnny Was empire waist silk blouse, $180

Another Johnny Was embroidered tunic, $218

Johnny Was blouse, $218, and tank, $48

Gayla Bentley ballet-neck dress, $250 and obi sash, $25 (we’ll pretend this wouldn’t be a mile too long for me)

Anna Scholz bird dress, $585

Melissa Masse shift dress, $275

NM oversized jacket, $315

Gayla Bentley sash dress, $190

Gayla Bentley tie shirtdress, $190

Gayla Bentley ruched collar coat, $475

Tenille White wrap dress, $525

Tenille White silk dupioni top, $550, and pants, $375

Gayla Bentley obi sash blouse, $185, and crepe pants, $185

Gayla Bentley floral-neck blouse, $450

Valentino bow bootie, $795

Christian Louboutin hidden platform bootie, $825

Christian Louboutin striped satin d’Orsay, $865

Bottega Veneta origami tote, $3,950

Tod’s Revered Picolla shoulder bag, $1,665

Leiber Humble the Penguin minaudier, $4,295

Total: $18, 741



Harari kimono top, $288

Sutton studio velour jacket, $228

Tadashi long cap-sleeve dress, $428

Tadashi beaded X-front dress, $488

Tadashi cap sleeve lace-bodice dress, $370

Sutton Studio bi-stretch cap sleeve dress, $149 (sale)

Lauren paisley jacket, $209

Jones NY dot jacquard jacket, $239

Eileen Fisher short wool jacket, $378

Anne Klein leather jacket, $329, mockneck top, $75, and ombre skirt, $119

Jones NY chintz trousers, $129

Lauren velvet skirt, $159, and long cardigan, $259

Sutton Studio wing collar jacket, $189, and pencil skirt, $95.99 (sale)

Sutton Studio notched-collar jacket, $165.99, and pencil skirt, $117.99 (sale)

Sutton Studio cashmere shrug neck sweater, $178.99

Anne Klein long funnelneck top, $65

Calvin Klein double-layer top, $88

Nanette Lepore corset booties, $395

Kate Spade Georgia pumps, $328

Stuart Weitzman Gigi pumps, $298

Mulberry large poppy drawstring bag, $1,795

Burberry trench belt leather tote, $1,795

Zac Posen trillium pleated leather tote, $1,450

Total: $10, 314.97


Oh wait, Barney’s doesn’t seem to carry plus sizes at all (at least not online). Which means I’m not buying shoes or bags there, either.

Total: $0


Add $63K in imaginary jewelry, and it’s $105,776.87, still well short of Palin’s and Shen Rostagi’s bills. 

What have we learned from all this? Well, first, I’m pretty sure I got a hell of a lot more clothes than Palin did for the money, because there’s no such thing as a multi-thousand-dollar suit for fat chicks (at least, not at those stores). If a fat woman were running for office at that level, she’d still be in suits that cost under $1,000, ’cause that’s all that’s out there. Some of the career wear for fatties is very well made and plenty expensive, but if you buy the only argument in support of Palin here — that women of her stature are expected to dress a certain way, and it costs that kind of money — then a fat woman who aspired to be a woman of Palin’s stature and look the part would be shit outta luck. 

And of course, it goes without saying that a woman who wears over a size 24 is already shit outta luck. Everything I’m saying here about upper-class fat women being shut out of dressing like their peers goes quadruple for fat women who are sized out of high-end department stores. 

Also, is Tadashi really the only fucking designer making plus-size evening wear? (What happened to Carmen Marc Valvo’s plus line?) There are loads of dresses that cost over $1,000 in Saks’s straight size section, and some a lot more than that, but only one over $500 in “Salon Z.” Again, if fat women want to move in the circles where women blow a couple thou on a dress for one night, we don’t even have the option of dressing to the same level. We’ve got to show up to our charity events and opera openings in gowns that don’t cost much more than the average bridesmaid’s dress. 

Now, real-world me is perfectly happy about this, since I’d like someone to shoot me if I ever think there’s a good reason to spend more than $500 on a dress. But fantasy-world me is pissed. I have all this pretend money, and I can’t even look the part, because someone decided that fat women don’t deserve fancy clothes. I mean, of course, with all that pretend money, I could hire a pretend tailor to make whatever I wanted, which is probably exactly what fat women who are loaded do. And of course, pretend bespoke is way more awesome than pretend off-the-rack anyway. But the point is, a fat woman could not spend $150,000 on clothes at those four department stores if she wanted to. (I didn’t actually do the math, but I bet if you added up every item available in plus sizes, you wouldn’t hit $150,000.) And in an abstract, will-never-fucking-affect-me way, that really blows.